KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — Cryptocurrencies are becoming more popular around the world and in East Tennessee.

It’s why Ben Morton decided his business would begin accepting it as payment earlier this year.

“We wanted to focus on versatility in our customer service and offer customers as many ways to pay as possible,” he said. Morton owns Tech Boss, LLC, and believes this high-tech financial network is here to stay.

James Reeve, Professor Emeritus for the Haslam College of Business at the University of Tennessee, agrees. He says the best way to understand cryptocurrency is to think beyond the coin itself, and instead see it as part of a network.

  • That network facilitates the transfer of value between two people without an intermediary, unlike a bank.
  • Also unlike a bank, Reeve explained, there is no owner or central location.
  • There is no physical money or no actual coin.
  • Transactions are stored digitally on virtual ledgers, verified, then duplicated on a program called a blockchain around the world.

Reeve noted the decentralized and secure method of payment could be liberating for others around the globe.

“There are parts of the world where people don’t have access to credit. They don’t have access to banks. They don’t have access to credit cards. Indeed, they are sort of disintermediated from the financial system,” he said.

Value for currencies, like Bitcoin, are driven by demand.

Many see that demand as an investment opportunity. Reeve believes there is opportunity in the network, but also urges users, investors, and speculators to use caution and do their research.

“This is absolutely the wild west. There are some great ideas out there that are worth investing in that you can profit from by actually investing in the coin, associated with that network. There are others that will end up being worthless,” he added.

Morton noted values change daily and have been particularly volatile lately, but said he still feels comfortable accepting the virtual currency as payment.